Blackstone LaunchPad hosts Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs program Sept. 8

Tameka Montgomery
Women entering the workplace have been the driving force behind economic growth, according to recent Kauffman Foundation research. Yet, they are still half as likely as men to become entrepreneurs. How can more women become entrepreneurial, and unleash their creativity and ingenuity?

The campus community is invited to join the conversation at “Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs,” set for Sept. 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Bird Library. The event features “Living Legend” Tameka Montgomery as keynote speaker, along with a dynamic panel of student, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs. Syracuse University Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly will offer welcoming remarks.

“I am delighted that Syracuse University is able to host this conference dedicated to promoting and supporting female entrepreneurship,” says Wheatly. “In today’s marketplace, business start-ups are one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and professional success, and yet women still lag significantly behind men in launching new business ventures. This conference is an opportunity for them to learn from one another and to build and nurture those critical connections that have been found to be so important to women’s success as aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.”

The event kicks off with a 4 p.m. networking session at the new Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library, followed by a 4:30 p.m. program in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons with the keynote speaker and entrepreneur panel. It concludes with a resource fair featuring campus and community connectors. The event is free and open to the campus community. Registration is requested by email to

Presidential appointee Tameka Montgomery leads the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), spearheading programs that serve more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs and small businesses nationwide. She oversees the SBA’s Office of Small Business Development Centers, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, and the Office of Entrepreneurship Education. The winner of numerous innovation awards, she was recognized as a Living Legend by the National Council of Negro Women. She was former executive director of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, where she won national accolades for building an entrepreneurship ecosystem there. Montgomery was previously a Presidential Management Fellow, and launched her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving two years in West Africa.

Following her remarks, an entrepreneur panel will be moderated by Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University. Panelists include:

  • Student venture – Melux, LLC, Co-founders Kristina Taylor ’17 and Kyla Brown ’16
  • Alumni venture – EB Active, Founder and SSIC Entrepreneur in Residence Gabriela Escalante ’16
  • Faculty venture – Brainview Technologies, Founder Dr. Leanne Hirshfield
  • Community venture – The Sweet Praxis, Co-founders Natalie Hansen and Jennifer Walls
  • SBIR-backed venture – TextWise Founder Liz Liddy, Dean of the iSchool
  • SBA-backed venture – Sky Armory/the Events Company, CSEP, President and Creative Director Nicole T. Samolis

Following the program, participants can explore resource tables in the Bird Library Learning Commons, and meet invited providers, which include:

  • The WISE Women’s Business Center
  • The South Side Innovation Center
  • Falcone Center and Couri Hatchery
  • Whitman EClub and Whitman Women in Business
  • Blackstone LaunchPad
  • VISION Entrepreneurship Club
  • It Girls Alumnae, SWEEP (Society for Women’s Empowerment and Engagement Partners), WIT-G (Women in Technology-Graduate) and WIT-U (Women in Technology-Undergraduate)
  • Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Newhouse
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • New York State Small Business Development Center
  • New York Business Development Corporation
  • The Excelsior Growth Fund
  • LaunchNY Venture Development Organization
  • Upstate Venture Connect and Start Fast Accelerator
  • The Syracuse Technology Garden and Syracuse Student Sandbox

The event is designed to provide a framework for aspiring women entrepreneurs who want to explore how to launch an idea. It is being coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library, a new cross-campus entrepreneurship resource center funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Open to students, faculty, staff and alumni, the program provides support for ideation and venture development, connects entrepreneurs to Syracuse University’s robust innovation ecosystem, and offers access to national and global resources through the Blackstone network.

Co-sponsors include the New York Business Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration, WISE Women’s Business Center, and The Syracuse Technology Garden. WISE (Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) was launched in 2003 by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, a program of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. It is also supported through the U.S. SBA as part of a national network of Women’s Business Centers that help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and compete in the global marketplace.